The phone call came garbled a little after 10:30 p.m.
“Our mom is not
being allowed to board her plane” – and abruptly, the call was
A few moments later an urgent SMS was received about another
passenger. “Dr. Laron is missing, never checked in, flight cannot be
The overwrought travel consultant was befuddled. How could two
women, on two different airlines, Delta and Continental, suddenly “disappear” at
Ben-Gurion Airport? The initial terse call was repeated five minutes later when
Judy’s children called again.
Angry and concerned, they explained that
their mother had shown up a good two hours prior to her flight. Yes, they
admitted, security was particularly tight that evening, but when their mother
reached the Delta counter, she was told she would not be permitted to board her
flight to Atlanta with an immediate connection to Pittsburgh. And then again the
line went dead.
Dr. Laron’s disappearance was just as puzzling. She had
been summarily requested to fly to the US for an urgent meeting and had just
purchased a full-fare economy class ticket on Continental
Planning on being there for only 36 hours she had beseeched her
travel agent to do all in her power to get her an upgrade to business class.
Hence her absence was raising warning lights on both sides of the
Judy’s kids finally returned home and were able to make a
coherent phone call. Their mother, an intelligent successful women in her
mid-50s, had purchased her ticket almost four months ago. Flying by herself she
had meticulously followed all the points her travel consultant had brought to
her attention. Make sure her passports were valid; verify the names on the
passports matched her ticket.
She had packed assiduously, each suitcase
weighing near the maximum permitted.
The day of the flight something was
rattling inside her brain about the flights but she couldn’t place her finger on
what the travel agent had said about departure times.
Hence the Delta
ground representative’s assertion that she could not board left her speechless.
It was 11 p.m. and her tiredness was beginning to take its toll.
Laron was having just as jarring a time at the Continental counter. She had no
problem with luggage; she had none. She didn’t even bother printing her
e-ticket; flying as often as she did and being an elite member of their frequent
flier club, she was less concerned about check-in procedures as she was
permitted to check in at the business counter. She too, though, was mystified
when told she could not board the flight. She hadn’t even gone home that night –
working in her office until she hailed a cab to take her to the airport,
arriving a good 90 minutes before her scheduled flight.
consultant dealing with Judy’s kids was losing patience. Unable to discern what
was causing the problem, she firmly requested to speak directly with the
Obtaining Judy’s cellphone did little to clear up the mystery.
It went straight to voice mail. Two more attempts elicited the same non-reply.
Calling back her children, it was explained that unless she could locate and
speak to Judy nothing more could be done.
Her children, too, were now
perplexed as they too could no longer reach her. Finally the travel consultant
offered the obvious explanation – somehow Judy was on a plane.
take several hours to find out how she made it.
Einat’s absence too could
not be easily explained. In fact, as the Continental plane took off, her name
was not listed as a no-show but simply that she didn’t take the flight. In fact
the Continental supervisor was emphatic that although she didn’t miss the
flight, neither was she on the plane. Two hours later her assistant confirmed
that she had not returned home and that no text message or email was sent with a
The next morning finally brought some clarity. Both
Judy and Einat had forgotten the cardinal rule of air travel.
airlines no longer require reconfirmation of a flight, it is imperative that all
passengers should confirm their flights are departing on time. And in the
challenging environment in which Israel finds herself, the issue of daylight
savings time is no less important. While most of Europe and all of the US are
blessed with a far longer daylight savings time, Israel for many years follows
the concept of going off summer time the weekend before Yom Kippur.
when Judy purchased her ticket months before, the Delta computer hadn’t updated
the departure time.
Also when Einat, who flies often to the US, purchased
her Continental ticket, she was confident of the hour when it departed. An
effort on both women’s part to simply verify when the plane was departing would
have solved all of their problems.
Both Delta and Continental ground
staff handled the ladies’ problems with patience and efficiency. Einat had
quickly gone over to Delta and purchased a one-way ticket to JFK; she phoned the
US number of Continental to inform them she would not be taking their evening
flight but would most definitely return as booked. She sat in her seat as the
doors of the aircraft closed, let out a sigh and went back to work. Why she
forgot to text her family, her company or her travel consultant is the only
mystery that remains.
Judy too was quite fortunate. While too late to
catch her original flight to Atlanta, Delta was kind enough to rebook her to JFK
without any penalty and also reserved a connecting flight to Pittsburgh. A
relieved Judy ran to the gate for her flight, also letting out a sigh of relief
and also leaving a mystery for her children.
Bottom line, dear reader:
Time waits for no one, so make sure you always have it right.
is the CEO of Ziontours, Jerusalem. For questions and comments, e-mail him at